Archive for the ‘Art Education’ Category

Vartan Gregorian is seeking a coordinator for a school-based humanities project:

Coordinator Position
Job Description

The I WAS THERE Project is a highly integrated Oral History Arts-Based Learning program that strives to preserve and celebrate the history of Fox Point, Providence, Rhode Island.

Founded in 2008, The mission of The I WAS THERE Project is to use oral histories and the arts to engage students at the Vartan Gregorian Elementary School at Fox Point in learning about the history and life of their school, the Fox Point community, and the natural environment that surrounds them. I WAS THERE connects our students with the greater community through public presentations, the Faces of Fox Point photo exhibit and IWT blog forums.

At Vartan Gregorian Elementary School, we believe the historic, artistic and social knowledge we gain from involvement to The I WAS THERE Project (IWT) and Faces of Fox Point is invaluable. The use of the arts and humanities as tools to access the ideals of honoring diversity, past generations, and the changing face of a vibrant neighborhood is central to the purpose of these projects.

Coordinator Position Job Description:

The IWT Coordinator plays an integral role in the program, and has the benefit of having hands-on experience in all areas and phases of IWT. The Coordinator acts as a liaison between the many individuals and entities that make up the I WAS THERE Project including teachers, principal, artists-in-residence, community partners, oral history interviewees, and the IWT project directors.

The Coordinator will assist in scheduling of meetings; preparation and carrying out of written, e-mail and phone communications; attend meetings; assist with project documentation and IWT archives; and technology coordination. The Coordinator will check in weekly with the IWT Project Directors to communicate on status of project and to prepare for upcoming work.

The Coordinator will also assist in the planning, preparation and implementation of IWT’s first Teacher’s Institute to be held over a period of three days in the summer of 2011.

The position averages up to ten hours per week. Schedule is flexible, but applicant must have availability during some school day hours (9:00 am – 3:00 pm). Position begins immediately and runs through July 2011.

Visit The I Was There Project blog at: http://www.iwasthereproject.org to learn more about us.

Please send cover letter and resume to IWT Co-Director, Wendy Warlick at wendyjanewarlick@verizon.net

Deadline to apply is: Monday, February 14th, 2011.


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The Nathan Bishop Middle School is seeking to reach out to all alumni of the school.

Our amazing art teacher is currently working on an audio/video oral and visual history project with our students. We hope that students will be able to interview alumni, possibly examine or document artifacts from the past (yearbooks, photos, awards, etc.), and create a presentation or even theatrical piece later in the year.

The Nathan Bishop PTO also hopes to host an Alumni event, possibly tied into the oral/visual history project, in the Spring.

Information about the PTO can be found at http://nathanbishoppto.org

The website contains a link for Alumni who wish to participate in the upcoming activities.

A direct link is http://www.nathanbishoppto.org/pb/wp_2e9f6752/wp_2e9f6752.html

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More Art!

Many thanks to Nancy Safian, the Program Manager of RISD’s “Project Open Door” for passing along the information below. Note that this is a high school program, but they are interested in working with 8th graders. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have this at Nathan Bishop when it opens?

I am on your mailing list and I wanted to point you to a web site run by Project Open Door, RISD’s free after school art and design program for teens from Providence (and RI). The programs goals are to help art and design students develop high quality portfolios in preparation for art college. The program is led by graduate and undergraduate RISD students and professional artist educators. Project Open Door currently works with high schoolers only, but we have considered working with 8th graders as they transition to high school. The program is directed by Dr. Paul Sproll, Head of the Department of Art + Design Education.

Currently Project Open Door provides school-based free after school art enrichment classes at Hope High and Feinstein High School. Any students from the city’s public schools a interested in continuing their art and design training are invited to attend this program free of charge.

Here is the web link. It contains art learning opportunities for students: http://risd.digication.com/projectopendoor

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art-color1.gifAs a follow up to the post below, and as an antidote to its negative tone, I would like to point out that the recent ProJo story that I mentioned also has some encouraging news from a neighborhood elementary school, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary.

“Katharina Shroeter has her hands full. She divides her time between two elementary schools, Martin Luther King Jr. and Reservoir Avenue. Between them, she teaches art to 700 students.”

Shroeter said she is fortunate to work at King Elementary because the school has a large, well-stocked art room, thanks in large part to the generosity of the Parent Teacher Organization and retired teachers. At the Reservoir Avenue School, however, the supplies are depleted. Last year, she said, the school was left with little else than crayons and paper.

Martin Luther King is fortunate in other respects. The East Side school also offers art enrichment — smaller, project-based classes for students who are either gifted in art or struggling in core subjects such as English and math. The school also excludes art and music teachers from lunchroom duty in recognition of their heavy teaching schedules, according to Principal Michael Lazzareschi.

“We’re really the exception to the rule,” he said. “We have an after-school program funded by the PTO. Parents [who] play instruments have taught pieces of the music class.”

But even at King, Lazzareschi said that it is difficult to squeeze arts classes into the schedule because of the increasing emphasis on math and literacy instruction.

It is wonderful to hear that parents, teachers and administration are pulling together to make up for the shortcomings in the arts education provided by the the district. The concern is that schools with less resources will be less successful in this.

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art-color.gifA recent article in the Providence Journal points to the moribund condition of art education in the Providence Schools. This is an issue that affects the Providence School District as a whole, but it also has a direct impact on the reopening of Nathan Bishop and on ESPEC’s goal of drawing more children from our neighborhoods into the public schools. Parents who believe arts are crucial to their children’s education will resist attending schools where arts are absent.

Providence has suffered cuts in art and music education over a number of years, beginning with previous superintendents. (The instrumental music program, for instance, was cut in 2003 by Supt. Johnson). In December 2006, Commissioner of Education Peter McWalters found that the Providence School District was not in compliance with its “Basic Education Plan” with regard to arts and music education. and ordered Superintendent Donnie Evans to restore these programs. In January 2007, Dr. Evans announced that he would appoint a “fine arts task force” to study how how make the arts available to students. To my knowlege, that task force was never created. However, Dr. Evans did submit a plan to the Commissioner.

In February 2008, the Commissioner sent a letter to the Providence Teachers Union, stating that the District is still not in compliance. However, as the ProJo reports:

Despite his earlier comments, McWalters said that he was not going to demand compliance because the district “at this time does not have the adequacy of resources to meet these requirements, especially in small themed high schools.”

“Given the complexity of the issues faced by the [school district] in meeting the basic education plan,” he said, “we acknowledge that the [district] is not in compliance with the [basic education plan].”

Since the state Department of Education has been asked to revise the state’s basic education plan, McWalters, in his letter to the union, said that it doesn’t make sense to launch any further investigation into the district’s fine arts offerings.

While it is understandably difficult to make progress in tight budget times, it is disturbing that, more than a year after his initial finding of noncompliance, the Commissioner has indicated that nothing need be done until the Dept. of Ed has reformulated the Basic Education Plan. Since it is inconceivable that the plan will not include arts education, why not work on making progress in the meantime?

As McWalters notes, part of the problem is budgetary. As budgets tighten, arts tend to take the first and biggest hits. However, there are other factors at work here. The problem, in part, be directly traced to the “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) law. NCLB’s emphasis on math and reading has lead to cut-backs in the time devoted to not only the arts, but also social studies and even science. A recently-released study by the Center for Educational Policy found that elementary schools in a majority of school districts increased instructional time for mathematics and language arts. Those districts reduced their instructional time for music and art by an average of one hour per week.

An irony here is that the arts are one of the “core academic subjects” in NCLB. However, since test scores are reported only for math and language arts, there is no incentive for districts to increase art education. Indeed, NCLB testing puts pressure on them to move resources and class time away from arts.

Update: As part of an effort to educate myself and think about what actions can be taken by citizens to support arts education, I’m collecting websites and other resources, which I’ll put on our web resources page. If any art advocates out there have suggestions, please post a comment here or email me. Thanks.

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